Upper-level decks often have a space underneath that could be so useful for storage or an additional living area if it weren't for the water dripping through the deck above. But without a lot of expense or effort it is possible to create a dry area underneath your deck. Let's consider the options.

You've probably heard of under deck ceiling systems. These systems are available from various manufacturers and they generally involve fixing sheets or panels to the underside of the deck. All these systems all offer a variation on the same theme. Let's look at some of the options.

From a DIY point of view, probably the simplest system for an under deck ceiling would be the solid vinyl systems such as those offered by Underdeck and DrySnap. These systems generally consist of interlocking solid panels or curved vinyl sheets with an associated system of guttering

Other systems use a rubber membrane shaped in the form of a trough such as DekDrain. RainEscape offer a similar system using flexible vinyl sheeting. Again these are claimed to be quite easy to install by an average handyperson.

With most of the above systems, the underside of your deck will have the appearance of a series of troughs fitted between the deck bearers, and some guttering system to carry water away to the side of your deck. If you would rather have flat underside like conventional ceiling, then you would need to investigate other systems such as Decks Under Cover and Undercover Systems Inc. These companies offer aluminum and galvanized steel products respectively. The downside is that they tend to be more expensive as they generally need to be installed by their own contractors. The Undercover Systems warrants a special mention since it is possibly the only system which is not directly attached to the deck joists.

But instead of constructing a ceiling or a series of troughs underneath your deck, your other option is to cover the top of your deck with a waterproof material. The most common method is to install either a vinyl surface or aluminum surface, but the major disadvantage is that if you have a classic hardwood wood deck you may not wish to hide it with vinyl or aluminum.

Yet another alternative, and perhaps the simplest and most cost-effective way of creating a waterproof area underneath an existing deck is to use snap together outdoor tiles. These tiles simply lock in place over an existing hard surface. Although the tiles themselves are not waterproof, the solution is that you firstly lay down and EPDM sheet over the top of your existing deck.

Then all you have to do is snap these modular tiles in place over the EPDM sheet. So there's no nails, no screws, or adhesives involved and you won't need to employ any contractors. You'll probably only need to cut some tiles on the last row where the tiles but against the outside wall.

Another of the advantages of using deck tiles to create a dry deck area under an elevated deck is that if you wish to change the surface from wood to another surface material, a few manufacturers also offer you the choice of tiles in slate, granite, porcelain and composite wood. You may also be able to mix several of these materials. For example you could create a centre piece in slate tiles surrounded by wood tiles. And if you are a tired of the additional maintenance of wood deck, then you have the option of using low maintenance composite wood as well.

With any of the above systems, you can be sure of one thing. You'll have a great, new, dry space under your deck which you can use for a variety of uses, storage, dining, or simply a leisure/play area.

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